Today we're going to take a look at the process of cleaning up and restoring a Super Nintendo game I bought. The process for doing this is not exclusive to Super Nintendo, but for the purpose of this feature, I'm going to talk about Super Nintendo specifically.
|Why must they put the price tag over the back label?!|
Let's take a look at this game I bought. I visited a local pawn shop and found a copy of Gemfire for the Super Nintendo. Like many games I see at the pawn shop, Gemfire was quite dirty and covered in stickers and grime. I have saved games much dirtier than this one, so I knew that it wouldn't be that difficult to save it from further deterioration. You can see a silver sticker wrapped around the side of the cart. This definitely needs to be removed. There is also dark grime around the rental sticker, leading me to believe that it at one time had a different and larger sticker in the same location. This game was obviously a rental game at some point, and presumably from more than one rental store, so you can imagine how many times this game has changed hands. I would also like to point out that the pawn shop I go to likes to put their price tag directly across the sticker on the back. This annoys me because it's something else I have to concern myself when trying to restore a game, but I can normally remove them without tearing the back sticker.
|Various cleaning supplies.|
In fact, now might be a good time to discuss the supplies I use when cleaning games.
In the above image, you can see a damp washcloth to wipe games down with, a dry hand towel to dry them, cotton swabs, a handkerchief to use with the Goo Gone, a bit holding screwdriver, a scraping tool to clean crevices, a thick needle break apart really tough grime, an eraser to clean corroded contacts as a last resort, and security bits to open games. You can purchase the security bits to open your games from MCM Electronics. On MCM Electronics' website, the part numbers for the security bits you'll need are 22-1145 and 22-1150. These bits will open most Nintendo and Sega products. I highly suggest you buy security bits to open games.
I removed the silver rental sticker and it surprisingly left very little glue residue behind. Upon removing it, I discovered that someone tried to scrape the previous residue off before applying the thinner sticker. When they did this, they left a deep gouge in the plastic itself. Ouch. Oh, well. I didn't intend on leaving this original back plate on the game anyway because it was discolored. I opened the game and took a look at the inside of the game and saw that the contacts on the game board were in pretty good shape, so there is no concern about them not working when we're done cleaning them. People use different solutions for cleaning, but diluted alcohol seems to be the most popular one.
|The guts of Gemfire!|
As I mentioned before, I didn't intend on keeping the original back on Gemfire because it was discolored and had a gouge in it. However, since I am going to replace it with a a back from another game, I do want it to be cleaned up as much as possible. When I bought Gemfire, I also picked up a copy of Rise of the Robots so I could switch the backs out. However, when I removed the price tag from the back of the game, I discovered why the pawn shop put their price sticker where they did: The entire back label was ripped apart. So the game I bought solely to use the back for has a ripped up back label. Perfect. In the end I wound up using the back from a duplicate copy of Jungle Book I accidentally bought previously.
I recently discovered that there are people that care about whether or not the back half of the carts are original. On the back of each cart, there are numbers stamped into the label. If you are one of those people, make sure the numbers stamped on the back of the cart you replace it with are the same as the numbers that were originally on it. I, however, am not one of those people, so Jungle Book is good enough for me.
And that's all there is to it! Every used game I buy gets thoroughly cleaned inside and out, and the end result is usually a night and day difference to how it looked when I acquired it. You learn quickly what you can and can't restore. Used games from the pawn shop, at least the ones I frequent, are some of the filthiest, most disgusting specimens of games you'll ever come across. Some of them are way past their shelf life and are impossible to restore no matter what you do to them, but others can be cleaned up to mint or near mint condition with a bit of work. The end result of your efforts is a game where you don't feel like you have to wash your hands after handling it.